Hello, everyone! Someone recently gave me a HUGE head of cauliflower and I couldn’t think of anything to make with it- until a hint of scandal entered my brain from a recipe we learned at the Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris:Crème Dubarry (or Cream of Cauliflower Soup). You might ask, “How could a scandal be attached to a simple Cauliflower soup?”
It turns out that Madame du Barry of France had many lovers and eventually became the mistress of King Louis XV. Decked out in jewels and fancy clothes, she led a pampered life until she was finally forced to leave Versailles upon the King’s death. Eventually she became a victim of the Reign of Terror and was beheaded in 1793.
Madame du Barry
But not to worry. Madame du Barry’s spirit lives on through this soup named after her: Crème Dubarry, or Cream of Cauliflower Soup. It’s a pretty easy recipe and I’ve added a little Gruyere cheese to give the soup more body: I’m sure Madame du Barry wouldn’t mind!
A creamy Cauliflower Soup named in honor of Louis XV mistress!
2 tbsp. butter
300 g (11 oz) cauliflower
120 g (4 oz) leeks, white part
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
5 cups chicken stock or water
Salt/white pepper to taste
½ cup thickened cream
¼ cup gruyère or parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup small cauliflower florets
¼ cup small broccoli florets
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chopped shallot, leeks and cauliflower; sauté for several minutes until the vegetables soften a little. Add the flour and stir. Add the chicken stock and cook for about 15 minutes until the cauliflower softens and is fully cooked through. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for several minutes until smooth. Transfer mixture back to the saucepan, add the cream and cheese and stir until thickened. Add more salt and pepper if required.
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the cauliflower and broccoli florets. Cook for several minutes, then remove. To serve, add soup to bowl, place several cauliflower and broccoli florets in the center of the bowl and sprinkle with some chopped chives.
Have you ever tried Chile Relleno? This Mexican dish is one of my faves- a poblano chile pepper stuffed with a white cheese, dipped in a fluffy egg batter then lightly fried.
While recently surfing the net, I came across a variation of this dish- Chile Relleno Soup. Gotta try this!, I said to myself. This is a creamy soup with roasted chopped poblano peppers and topped with a layer of melted cheese. And don’t think I’ve forgotten the batter-fried chile pepper in the recipe- you’ll find it resting under the layer of cheese, ready to be eaten. Yum, this looks like a luscious French Onion Soup with a Mexican twist. I wonder what Julia Child would think?
P.S. I’d really love it if you’d like my Facebook page! Any likes and shares are always appreciated!
First, the poblano peppers are roasted in the oven until the skins blister and turn black (careful not to burn them).
The blistered skin is then peeled and the chiles are chopped up and placed in the creamy soup mixture. One chile is coated in the fluffy egg mixture and then lightly fried in oil.
This fried chile is then placed on top of the creamy soup, ready for the melted cheese to be placed on top.
And here it is- Chile Relleno Soup.
Chile Relleno Soup
A creamy, cheesy soup topped with a golden-fried poblano chile.
Pre-heat the oven broiler to 400 F. Brush the poblano chile peppers with a little olive oil, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Turn the chiles and broil the other side for the same amount of time. The skin should blister and turn black, however be careful to not burn. Remove from the oven and place the chiles in a sealable plastic bag for about 15 minutes to soften the skin.
Over medium heat, fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft; add the chopped coriander and flour and continue to heat for several more minutes. Add the chicken stock, heavy cream, milk and salt to taste.
Remove the chiles from the bag and carefully peel off the blistered skin, cut off the top and remove the seeds. Chop up four of the chiles and set the fifth one aside for the chile relleno topping. Add the chopped chiles to the sauce and let simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the ½ cup shredded jack cheese and stir until fully melted.
While the sauce simmers, prepare the chile relleno topping. Cut the remaining chile in half; this will give you two larger pieces of chile that will later be placed on top of the soup.
Separate the egg whites and yolks from the two eggs. Whip the egg whites with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Add the flour and continue to beat for another minute. In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks to the baking powder and whip together slightly using a fork. Now fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolks; the mixture should be light and airy.
Heat the ½ cup oil in a fry pan over high heat. Dust each of the remaining chile halves with flour, then dip them into the egg mixture, fully coating them. Add to the cooking oil and fry about 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
Serve the soup into individual bowls, top with a piece of the fried chile relleno and extra shredded cheese. Place the bowls under the broiler for several minutes until the cheese turns golden, then serve.
You could also substitute an Anaheim chile for the poblano chile.
I belong to a Cookbook Club at my local library (do people go to libraries any more)? Every month the members meet and share a recipe from one of their favorite cookbooks: this month everyone brought along a sample of their favorite soup and the accompanying cookbook recipe. First, everyone sat around a table and talked about their soup recipe, followed by mass tastings and slurpings of the featured soups.
I was really bowled over by the Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk and Ginger that one person brought along to the group- so creamy and smooth with the underlying zing of the ginger and subtle addition of the cayenne pepper. I added some shallots and garlic to my variation of this soup in order to add more depth. I also added a bit of thick cream at the end to cut the ginger taste a bit and to take this recipe to the next level of ‘manna from heaven’. Yes, you won’t be bored with this soup!
Note: I added some chopped chiles and a few basil leaves as garnish for my soup, but those are optional.
I can’t wait until next month’s meeting, which will feature PIE recipes. I’m already thumbing through my favorite pie cookbook, Ms. American Pieby Beth Howard, to pick my next recipe (should I choose Mississippi Mud or Cherry Pie?) The only drawback to my Cookbook Club is I always wind up buying one or two new cookbooks (although I guess I should check them out from the library- that’s what libraries are for, right?
Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot, along with the chopped shallots, garlic, ginger, coconut milk and chicken stock, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes soften.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender, and in batches, purée the mixture until smooth. Add the lime juice and cream and adjust the seasoning (salt, pepper, cayenne) if necessary. Garnish with several basil leaves (optional).
Increase the amount of ginger and/or cayenne pepper in this recipe if you desire a more spicy taste.
Yay, it’s my blog one-year anniversary! I can’t believe it. Thanks so much for following my blog. You all give me energy and inspiration to keep on going – especially when you leave comments!
And now for the Crab Bisque. Yep, this is a soup with Attitude. It’s easy to make, plus you don’t need to be Andy Warhol to make the creamy design on top.
A Bisque is a rich, creamy soup made with shell fish, such as crab or lobster. The shells and meat of the shell fish are first lightly sautéed on the stove top. Aromatic vegetables are then added, along with stock, white wine, Cognac and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The whole mixture is then strained, thickenedand the cream added later.
I learned this recipe at the Paris Le Cordon Bleu school, where we learned the important technique of using the shells of crustaceans to add flavour to sauces and soups, not just the meat. I used to throw the shells away as fast as possible, particularly when working with prawns and crabs. But hang onto them- they’ll add rich flavours to your sauces.
Here is a summary of the steps to make a Crab Bisque, followed by the detailed recipe below.
First, place the crab on a cutting board and crush the body and legs using the flat end of a rolling pin (or you could use another blunt instrument).
Pick out several pieces of the crab meat to use as garnish later. Also, remove any spongy ‘gills’ that are visible, but don’t worry if you don’t remove them all.
Step 2: Dice up the aromatic vegetables- the carrot, onion, leek, celery stalk and garlic.
Step 3: Lightly sauté the crab shells and meat in a Dutch Oven or pot on the stove top. Add the diced aromatic vegetables, followed by the fish (or chicken) stock, white wine, cognac, diced tomatoes and seasonings.
Step 4: Strain the mixture and then thicken with either corn or rice flour. Pour the soup into a serving bowl and place a few pieces of crab meat in the bowl. Make a spiral pattern on top of the soup using thickened cream (I used a plastic squeeze bottle filled with the cream to lay my design on the soup).
Step 5: Now insert a knife in the middle of the spiral and move the knife outward toward the edge of the bowl. You’ll see a design start to form (but not quite Andy Warhol yet) !
Repeat all the way around the spiral and here is your finished Crab Soup:
A rich, creamy crab soup - with a bit of 'attitude'
2 medium-sized crabs - about 400 g each
1 celery stalk
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups (500 ml) fish or chicken stock
2 cups (500 ml) water
100 ml dry white wine
50 ml cognac
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
sprig of fresh thyme
salt/pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 - 2 tbsp. corn or rice flour combined with water, to thicken
100 ml thickened cream for the 'design'
Place the two crabs on a cutting board and crush the body and legs into small pieces, using the blunt end of a rolling pin (or other blunt instrument). Set aside several larger pieces of the crab meat for garnish later. Also, remove some of the 'spongy' lung pieces and discard (it's not necessary to remove all these pieces).
Dice the carrot, onion, celery, leek and garlic into smaller pieces.
Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch Oven or large pot. Lightly sauté the chopped crab pieces over medium high heat, then add the diced vegetables and stir for several minutes.
Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes to the pan, followed by the stock, water, wine and cognac, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes.
Now add the salt and pepper and pinch of cayenne. Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until all flavors have been thoroughly infused into the soup.
Strain all ingredients through a mesh strainer. Make a paste by combining 1 - 2 tbsp. of corn or rice flour with a little water. Return the soup to the stove, add the paste to the soup and stir until it thickens. Add more paste to thicken, if required. Adjust seasoning, if required (i.e. more salt, pepper or cayenne).
Pour the soup into individual soup bowls, add a few pieces of crab meat to each bowl.
To make the design on top of each soup serving, make a spiral pattern using the thickened cream. Place a knife in the center of the spiral and move the knife outward towards the edge of the bowl; you will see a 'design' start to form. Repeat this knife movement all the way around the spiral until the design is complete.
Sometimes I get inspiration for my recipes from nature; for instance, a sunset with brilliant colors may remind me of a special dessert. I was recently blessed with a new inspiration when I came upon the Pumpkin Patch in the Anza Borrego Desert in Southern California- lots of pumpkins but not the kind we are used to!
The Pumpkin Patch is an area with many spherical-shaped rocks, about the size of an average pumpkin. The sign tells us how these ‘pumpkins’ were made:
“This unique landscape is the result of wind and water continuously eroding the surface soil and revealing these globular sandstone concretions.
Photographer Floris van Breugel gave me special permission to use his beautiful photograph of the Pumpkin Patch. You can see more of his wonderful photography at http://www.artinnaturephotography.com/
So, after experiencing the beauty of this place, I was inspired to create my own ‘Pumpkin Patch’ with a recipe for Pumpkin, Pancetta and Sage Soup Cooked in a Pumpkin Shell. This involves first making a hearty soup with pumpkin and pancetta, then baking it inside of a hollowed-out pumpkin shell.
I used several small pumpkins for the shell: Orange Sparkler Pumpkins and Mini-Pumpkins. This makes a great company dish as a starter- each guest can eat the soup out of their very own pumpkin! When the soup is all gone, you can then eat the pumpkin shell if you wish.
Basic Preparation for the Pumpkin
To cut the top off the pumpkin, first draw a line around the top, then make a cut placing the knife at a 45 degree angle.
Remove the top and remove all seeds and stringy bits. After baking the pumpkin (see instructions below), the pulp becomes softer and you can then scrape out more of the inside, if desired.
Pumpkin, Pancetta and Sage Soup Cooked in a Pumpkin Shell
Author: Adapted from 'Closet Cooking'
Recipe type: Starter or Main Course
A hearty roast pumpkin and pancetta soup baked inside individual pumpkin shells.
4 small pumpkins
1 cup diced pancetta
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 - 15.5 ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups pumpkin purée
1 cup smoked turkey (or ham) meat
2 tbsp sage, chopped finely
2 Bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Garnish:
Diced pancetta pieces, cooked and crumbled
Whole Sage leaves
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
Pre-heat the oven to 360 F.
Prepare the pumpkins. Cut out the tops of the pumpkins and scrape out all seeds and stringy bits. Save the seeds to roast and serve later as garnish for the soup (pepitas).*
Brush the outside of the pumpkins with olive oil; season the insides with salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until the pumpkins start to soften. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
To prepare the soup, sauté the pancetta pieces in oil in a large pot until crisp. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic pieces and stir over medium-high heat until they soften.
Now add the beans, chicken stock, pumpkin purée, smoked turkey leg (or ham), sage and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Fill each pumpkin shell with the soup and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with the crisp pancetta pieces, Sage leaves and pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). *
*To prepare the pepitas, mix the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl and coat with olive oil. Add seasoning (I used salt and a little chili powder) then roast in the oven for 15 minutes at 360 F.